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She-Hulk's Dilemma: Legal Approaches in Combating Revenge Porn – A Comprehensive Analysis in Pop Culture

Updated: May 17

Introduction

Whenever the world faces destructive forces beyond Midgard, the Avengers assemble with their superpowers, wit, and wisdom, becoming the beacon of hope for humanity. Spiderman's selfless act in protecting New York from Electro and Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America, fighting Nazi forces exemplify conscious decisions to preserve reality across the vast multiverse, fostering peace and harmony. Even the most powerful beings, like superheroes, can be easily threatened, not by a deadly nuke or power source, but by a simple phenomenon known as the ‘Internet’. Initially designed for communication, the Internet has become a defining calendar event, dividing eras into pre- and post-its advent. While offering limitless opportunities, it also provides a cloak of invisibility, raising concerns. She-Hulk, an attorney turned Hulk due to a mishap, faced setbacks due to the Internet.

In today's era of swiping and algorithm-driven emotions, some still yearn for genuine love. Technology, intended to connect people seamlessly, has disrupted human relationships, creating a dystopian reality for many. Despite its potential for good, a fraction succumbs to unwarranted anger, turning the Internet into a breeding ground for negativity. Notably, adult content on the Internet often involves private and intimate videos shared consensually but published without consent. One egregious consequence is revenge porn, a distressing form of rumour-mongering stemming from Internet misuse. The phenomenon of revenge porn is not novel. Upon careful observation, it becomes apparent that it is an amalgamation of activities that had existed in the physical ambit long before the Internet era reached its pinnacle. By closely examining the prevailing trend of offences against women, one encounters a significant crime sensationalised by cinematic culture and subsequently ingrained in society as a definitive transgression: stalking. To comprehend and examine the notion of revenge porn we must delve into the characterisation prompted by dictionaries as per the rule of interpretation. The essence of this concept lies in the motivation of ‘Revenge’ accompanied by the transmission of sexually intimate images and videos. This legal delineation aligns with the definitions presented in reputed dictionaries, such as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary[1], Oxford Dictionary on Social Media[2], and Cambridge Dictionary[3].

S1E8 (Season 1 & Episode 8) of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law showcased a severe concern about the impact caused by revenge porn. The primary contention of revenge porn is not the consent factor which is often discussed and deliberated upon, but the intent of the person who is engaged in the act of criminality. Revenge porn is a peculiar phenomenon in which the primary motive revolves around the factor of revenge; even though criminal codes across the nations do not make motive a significant factor in determining criminality, revenge porn stands as an exception. One must understand that with a motive of revenge, individuals who are involved in crimes of these sorts publish sexually explicit content, which encompasses any representation focusing on the anatomical structure of the human body. Thus, any act or action intending to depict various aspects of human anatomy, including derogatory slurs, would qualify as sexually explicit content.

 

Elements of Revenge Porn

The persisting menace of revenge porn necessitates continuous legal intervention to address and eradicate this issue. Legislative bodies are tasked with comprehending and interpreting the term in a manner that leaves no room for its subtle implications. Conventional definitions of revenge porn encompass four essential elements: 

1. Sexually explicit content;

2. Content in the form of images or videos;

3. Publication; and

4. Intent to harm an individual.

Understanding revenge porn is an intricate endeavour, as it revolves around causing harm to an individual. IPC[4] defines ‘injury’ as any illegal harm inflicted upon a person's body, mind, reputation, or property. Analysing the contextual meaning of ‘injury’ sheds light on the harm inflicted upon an individual's mental and physical well-being.

 

The multifaceted nature of revenge porn necessitates a comprehensive understanding of its implications, considering its impact on individuals' lives and the legal framework required to combat this violation of privacy and dignity.

 

Rationality of Crime

Though crime is fuelled by various motives and driven by varied levels of motivation factors, it is ultimately constructed upon the fundamental element of returns. In criminal jurisprudence, it can be contextualised as pleasure and pain, as pointed out by Jeremy Bentham. Rather than viewing crime merely as an affront to the state, Becker's approach delved into economic variables, framing it within a profit and loss analysis context[5]. This conceptual framework, coined as the Economic Theory of Law, draws inspiration from Jeremy Bentham's foundational idea that individual behaviour emanates from the dual forces of pleasure and pain. If viewed in the practical scenario, the formula mentioned above would help individuals understand the reasons for a criminal act, as mentioned by Jeremy Bentham.

 

 

1P+A+S&B> PU(S)= Crime

1P= Person, A= Action, S&B= Satisfaction and Benefit, PU(S)= Punishment via Sanctions

If we observe any criminal acts, the intention to commit a criminal act only generates when the offenders believe that in the existing legislative phenomenon, the benefit factor (pleasure) via the commission of a crime is significantly higher than the sanctions (pain) provided in the criminal code.

 

1P+A+ D.AN + S&B > PU(S)= Digital Crime

1P= Person, A= Action, D.AN= Digital Anonymity  S&B= Satisfaction and Benefit, PU(S)= Punishment via Sanctions

 

The same formula can be further elongated by adding the factor of levels of digital anonymity leading to digital crimes.

 

 

Combating the Cloak of Invisibility

Privacy over the Internet is a myth, as there are eyes all around tapping the whole trail of every individual present. There are various reasons why it is safe to say that privacy protection is not adequate:

 

1.     The regulatory landscape is either wholly absent or relatively thin. Till now, the regulatory framework over the subject of revenge porn limits to the Information Technology Act,2000, read with the Indian Penal Code,1860, which in reality is still a toothless tiger as the research shows that social media websites that are known to have a sensitive data policy are becoming a severe market to pornography, especially revenge porn[6]. However, there is one very significant task that the data protection authorities and the working groups associated with them are steadily defining: practical measures and suggestions. The suggestions include:

a. Data Minimization: Store only the most essential data on the relevant device, ensuring data encrypation is applide during transit and at rest .

b. Users Data Access Control: Users should implement stringent access control measures, enabling them to regulate access to their data and mitigate potential risks personally.

c. Cloud Storage Guidelines: In a digital arena where space is a critical consideration, individuals worldwide increasingly turn to cloud-based storage solutions provided by various companies. It is imperative for both individuals and companies to regularly conduct audits and assessments of this cloud storage system to identify and address potential data breaches.


2.Privacy enhancement tools (PET) should be linked with the economic factors of individual companies, which would bring serious implementation rather than soft guidelines.


3.The digital world is full of monsters, and the best way to be safe is not to withdraw from it but rather create a sensitised environment. The law cannot intensely regulate individual human connections; it is a pure matter of emotion; rather, it would be wiser to disable the factors that can reduce the issue at various stages.

 

It is essential to keep in mind that technological advancements are occurring at an accelerated rate. To establish the present desires of the populace, legislation, and technology should collaborate to create a sustainable model that would accommodate people’s will to preserve their privacy. It is a hard truth that even though the enhanced individuals have all the mighty power, no power can match the intensity of the Internet. Hence, individuals must be alert and aware of the technology available in and around them.


AUTHORS NAME -: Sistla Naveen Teja ; Assistant Professor School of Law GITAM University


[1]Definition of Revenge Porn, MERRIAM WEBSTER (May 31, 2023), https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revenge+porn.

[2] Daniel Chandler & Rod Munday, Revenge Porn in A Dictionary of Social Media (2016), OXFORD REFERENCE (May 31, 2023), https://www.oxfordreference.com/display/10.1093/acref/9780191803093.001.0001/acref-9780191803093-e-1231.

[3] Revenge Porn, CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARY (May 31, 2023), https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/revenge-porn.

[4]The Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 44, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India).

[5]Gary Becker, Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach, 76 JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY 169, 170 (1968).

[6]Adam Smith, How Twitter is becoming more like OnlyFans - and what that means for users, INDEPENDENT (May 31, 2023),https://www.independent.co.uk/tech/twitter-only-fans-pornography-adult-content-subscription-b1812464.html .

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1 commento


This paper clarified me the following points:

  • The difference between porn and that of revenge porn.

  • Publication is a key element with a clear motive of revenge to 'Injure' the person.

  • The mere affront of the state as a factor in viewing a crime cuts down the scope of understanding the crime as a whole. Economic variables, framing it within a profit n loss analysis context shall be considered.

  • Revenge porn revolves around P &P: Pain and pleasure phenomenon, and to end it, the solutions mentioned to combat revenge porn is to the point

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